Why We’re Thankful for Trust for America’s Health + Jeff Levi

November 25, 2015

It’s the time of year to give thanks, and here at Healthy Schools Campaign, we’re thankful for our partners that help us move our work forward both in Chicago and nationally. See more posts in this series.

For the past four years, we have been fortunate enough to work with Trust for America’s Health and Executive Director Jeff Levi to tackle a national crisis that is playing out in our nation’s classrooms and impacting one of the most precious sources of hope for any young person’s future—the ability to learn. Rates of chronic diseases or conditions are on the rise and many students attend schools that do not foster conditions that support student health. Unfortunately, low-income students of color are disproportionately impacted, robbing them of the opportunity to be healthy and ready to learn.

Through this partnership, we have brought together over 150 stakeholders to catalyze improvements to health and wellness in schools across the country. We have been honored to call Trust for America’s Health our partner in this work and Jeff Levi’s leadership has been instrumental in its success.

We have Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president for program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to thank for bringing together our two organizations for theHealth in Mind collaboration. Dr. Christopher has a deep understanding of the need to create healthy conditions in communities across the country and a commitment to addressing racial inequities in ethnic and low-income populations.

The Health in Mind report laid out our vision for better integrating health and education and launched the National Collaborative on Education and Health. HSC and TFAH co-chair the Collaborative, which has tackled issues including chronic absenteeism, access to health services and substance misuse. For example, the Collaborative informed the launch of Department of Education’s Every Student,Every Day initiative which is striving to galvanize multi-sector support for efforts to address chronic absenteeism.

Jeff says this work is one of the early success of the National Collaborative. “The collaborative has really brought added value to an ongoing discussion of chronic absenteeism because it was able to engage the health sector and other agencies and bring them around the same table,” he said.

It’s this role—of relationship builder—that makes the collaborative effective, Jeff says. “I think the biggest success is really the new relationships that have been created,” he said. “The mission of the collaborative is to be a catalyst, and the collaborative has been able to catalyze new relationships.”

Jeff has announced that he will step down as executive director of TFAH at the end of the year to return to Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University as a full-time faculty member.

We’re so thankful for the great partners that Jeff and TFAH have been over the past several years, and we know that relationship will continue. We’re especially thankful for Jeff’s leadership, and we wish him the best in his new endeavor.